Young Innovators Shaping Breakthrough Climate Solutions Showcased at COP28

UNICEF and Partners Call For Critical Investment in Sourcing and Scaling Youth-led Climate Innovations from Across the Globe

23 November 2023
Innovation30 - Young Climate Innovators Shaping the Future
UNICEF Innovation

In Dubai at COP 28, young climate innovators from 19 countries will present their climate solutions at a state-of-the-art holographic exhibition demonstrating UNICEF and partners’ call for critical investment in climate interventions by founders under the age of 30.

The initiative, Innovation30 – Young Climate Innovators Shaping the Future aligned with Agenda 2030 for sustainable development was designed by a diverse collaborative network of UNICEF, global accelerators, and leading universities. The initiative aims to build a pipeline of scientifically vetted* breakthrough climate innovations created by under 30s, placing them centre stage as stakeholders, technical experts, and designers driving climate solutions. 

From air pollution reduction to renewable energy sources, waste management systems to climate -resilient food and water, water conservation to disaster preparedness, Innovation30 showcases investor-ready scalable solutions. Investing in the innovative ideas of these young founders yields a return of a climate-resilient future for all.  

Through a series of 3D holographic projections focused on groundbreaking climate solutions – the innovators will present their climate solutions at COP 28. Through Innovation30, UNICEF aims to facilitate the further scale of their innovations to reach every child and their communities, everywhere through the organization’s presence in over 190 countries. 

“The foremost existential crisis of our time is climate change with grave implications on the lives of children. Young people are seen as climate activists and advocates, but more than that, they are problem solvers. Innovation30 pulls into focus game changing youth-led solutions with the potential to turn the tide on climate change."

"Investing in sustainable child-focused climate solutions is not only conscientious, but also economically prudent, and backing scientifically vetted and scalable innovators is the loudest signal of commitment to securing a climate resilient future for us all.  Audacious investment is urgently needed to build and deliver pipelines of youth led climate innovations and grow the green economy this and future generations will come to depend on for a healthier and safer planet."

Thomas Davin, Director, UNICEF Office of Innovation

The Climate Changed Child – a UNICEF report released ahead of the COP28 climate change summit - throws a spotlight on the threat to children as a result of water vulnerability, one of the ways in which the impacts of climate change are being felt. It provides an analysis of the impacts of three tiers of water security globally – water scarcity, water vulnerability, and water stress*. Innovation30 is part of UNICEF’s call at COP28 to world leaders and the international community to take critical steps with and for children and young people to secure a livable planet.   

Only 2.4% of climate finance from major Multilateral Climate Funds go towards child-responsive activities. Innovation30 collaborates with existing climate financing funds and stakeholders to unlock financial capital for young innovators to reach maximum climate impact through their innovations. 

The world must seize the opportunity now to invest in credible innovations that contribute towards reaching critical global climate targets. 

With 3.8 billion of the world’s population now under the age of 30 - the largest generation of young people the world has ever seen – equitably equipped to innovate, the potential for progress is unlimited.  

Young people harness the power of innovation with an open mind to discovering solutions for a world in need of change and transformation. The main challenge young innovators face is securing support and overcoming the barriers of mindsets and fear of failure set as precedents from previous generations,” Marybel Montoya Alvarez, Colombia. Nominated by the Royal Academy of Engineering to Innovation30, Marybel created Fungi Life at the age of 26. The solution applies sustainable biotechnology to address industrial pollution and ecological degradation.   

Innovation30, part of UNICEF’s Sustainability and Climate Action Plan (SCAP), is a collaboration with 14 climate accelerators and partners from around the world** including MIT, Cambridge University and a team from Imperial College London (via Imperial Consultants, led by Undaunted), alongside a diverse inaugural cohort of young pioneers shaping breakthrough climate innovations collectively already impacting the lives of children and their communities globally. 

It is vital that we create effective pipelines into climate innovation for young talent on an international scale. Young people across the globe already have the creativity and tenacity to develop intelligent solutions that will help us to tackle climate change; it is only with the right support and investment, however, that they will be able to develop their ideas and experiences into successful, scalable and sustainable solutions for generations to come,” Alyssa Gilbert, Director of Undaunted, who led the team of independent experts from Imperial. 

Action must be taken now and not left to tomorrow. Every second of inaction that goes is like building a road to a dead end and we may never be able to find our way back from it,"  Samuel Muyita, age 25, from Uganda. He is the creator of Karpolax a solution that uses enzymes to extend the shelf life of fruits, nominated by MIT Solve.  

The initiative not only showcases young founders it sends a message to global investors and world leaders that youth-led climate solutions are impactful, scalable and investment ready.  

Seven years ago, I was told to look at my idea as a lifestyle business and not as something I could scale. Today, the same person is an investor in the business,” Kaushal Shah from India, aged 23 when he created EnvoBarrier. The sustainable flexible packaging solution was selected by Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership to Innovation30. 


Innovation30 Finalists

The solutions selected were scientifically vetted by a panel of 23 scientists against set criteria of; positive impact on children, potential to scale, contribution to climate change adaptation or mitigation, business sustainability, risk of harm and patent potential within market setting and competition.  

“With a world facing crises on multiple fronts it’s vital that we empower young people to lead us into a positive future.  CISL Canopy is therefore pleased to contribute to UNICEF Innovation 30. Showcasing and supporting young entrepreneurs from around the world, this initiative is helping to develop new ideas and innovative ventures with the potential to tackle climate change at scale.” James Cole, Chief Innovation Officer, Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership.  

Meet the innovators and learn more about their solutions here.

*Solutions were vetted by independent climate scientists from Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) Canopy and Imperial College London - Undaunted, the climate change innovation activity run in partnership with the Royal Institution. 

** Innovation30 is the collaborative effort of a consortium of innovation accelerators nominating and vetting impactful solutions from around the world. They include African Leadership Academy/Anzisha Prize, African Youth Climate Hub, Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, Chatham House Sustainability Accelerator, Global Alliance of Universities on Climate, Forest Valley, Ignite, Imperial College London Undaunted, MIT Solve, Mzuzah, Nigerian Climate Innovation Accelerator, Seedstars, The Canopy, The Climate Pre-Accelerator, The Royal Academy of Engineering 

Media contacts

Yemi Lufadeju
Communication Manager, Office of Innovation


UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

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